Calling All Facebook Friends: Exploring Requests for Help on Facebook

author: Nicole B. Ellison, School of Information, University of Michigan
published: April 3, 2014,   recorded: July 2013,   views: 1787

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Past research suggests Facebook use is linked to perceptions of social capital, a concept that taps into the resources people gain from interactions with their social network. In this study, we examine a sample of public Facebook status updates (N=20,000) for instances in which users request a response from their network. These attempts to mobilize resources offer insight into the mechanisms through which Facebook is used for social capital conversion. After identifying mobilization requests (N=856), we categorize them by cost (i.e., effort needed to satisfy the request) and type (e.g., opinion, information, social coordination) in order to describe the prevalence of these requests and the extent to which they require effort on the part of the potential responders. Finally, we examine characteristics of these users and the linguistic characteristics of status updates that contain mobilization requests.

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